Miami Condo Boom Goes Bust

But since so many of the projects that began under the boom are still under construction, judgment day has not yet arrived -- speculators may have made deals with potential buyers, but they can't close until the units actually exist.

"We haven't seen the actual result yet," Winston says. "They have to close first and then decide whether or not they're going to hold on to the unit, how long they're going to hold on to the unit, whether they're going to decide to try to resell the unit or rent the unit. And if they can't do either one of those two successfully, then their next choice is to walk away."

Exception That Proves the Rule

In 2005, ABC News was at the splashy, flashy launch party of the new W South Beach condos. Prices started at $1,400 a square foot -- steep even in notoriously pricey markets like New York. Developer David Edelstein radiated confidence.

"There's enormous demand and very little supply," he said at the time.

Today, despite the candid pessimism most people in the business express, Edelstein maintains that the market is "on fire."

"The sales are at a rapid pace," he says. "In my opinion, you're going to see just another increase in price per square foot. You'll see huge amount of demand."

Confidence is part of his sales pitch, of course, but Edelstein also argues that his property is in a location so prime, it is unaffected by the caprice of the market.

"There's been a huge amount of development in other areas where there may be too much supply put on the market, and a speculator is not going to be able to take advantage of an opportunity and, in fact, may get burned," he says. "But in superprime locations, unique locations, on the sand, in great places, in New York City, that hasn't happened."

A Less-Rosy Outlook

When we visited Havana Lofts, a development on the scruffy edge of downtown Miami, in 2005, prices were modest. But Kari Fernandez, the sales agent, was firmly in the grip of condo mania.

"I would say it's a very hot market right now," she said at the time.

Today, Havana Lofts is nearing completion. For the developer, the timing was fortunate: Sales began and went well just before the boom ended.

We found Fernandez selling and reselling condos at the Plaza on Brickell, a project first offered in 2003. As it nears completion, Fernandez is helping buyers flip the units. Always the saleswoman, she'll tell you this is a hot market -- but listen carefully:

"It is hot; it's not as hot as before, just because the market slowed down a little bit," she says. "The properties were going up at a very fast pace and now the market is rectifying itself. So the sellers are more flexible and working more with the buyers. It's more of a buyer's market right now."

But there is no sense that this is the end for Miami. This city has weathered booms and busts before, and it has always bounced back. With its gorgeous beaches and glorious sunsets, it is easy to see why.

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